The Justice Department attempted to obtain email logs of four New York Times journalists in an bid to identify sources, the newspaper reported.
The effort started under the Trump administration and continued under President Joe Biden, according to David McCraw, a lawyer for the paper. The Biden administration informed some of the newspaper’s top executives about the push for records, but issued a gag order to keep it from becoming known to the public, McCraw told the paper Friday.
Gag order lifted
McCraw said he was allowed to speak about the matter after a federal court lifted the gag order, which had been in effect since March 3, according to the New York Times. The Justice Department tried to get email logs from Alphabet Inc’s Google, which operates the paper’s email system, but the company didn’t turn over the requested information.
“Clearly, Google did the right thing, but it should never have come to this,” New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet told the newspaper, which reported that the gag order prevented executives from telling him about the issue.
The Biden administration moved to delay enforcement of the order “on multiple occasions in recent months” and then “voluntarily moved to withdraw the order before any records were produced,” Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said in a statement to the paper.